Silence is Not Always Golden

SilenceMaybe it was his upbringing. His alcoholic dad. His parent’s divorce. Maybe it was WWII. Maybe it was the so-called friend who sold his cabinet shop while he was fighting the war. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Whatever it was, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure it all out. Like: why did he just sit and stare? What was he thinking about? What did he see?

He was a good man. Didn’t drink. Didn’t cuss. Didn’t scream and yell and never, ever lost his cool. He was gentle and quiet and patient and sometimes extremely funny. Yet, I was afraid of him. Afraid of doing something wrong. Afraid of his scornful frown. Afraid of making too much noise, of asking too many questions, of sitting on his lap and hugging his neck. Afraid of his cold, stark, overpowering, confusing, excessive silence.

I concluded that my dad didn’t love me; that I was stupid and ugly. So, to protect my sensitive, fragile emotions, I decided that I didn’t need him and gradually built a wall between us. By the time I became a teen, I terribly resented and rebelled against my dad. That, along with my dad’s laziness about working a regular job, my mother working three jobs and flying off the handle every other day, our house became a war zone.

Sadly, between the wall I built, and my misguided conclusions, I blamed our shattered, dysfunctional lives all on my dad.

If I had the chance to do it over again, I would sit on his lap, hug his neck and tell him how much I love him. I would understand that the war shattered his soul and that silence was his haven. I would encourage him to talk to me, to share his thoughts with me, and tell me what he’s feeling. I’d see my dad as a pillar of strength instead of the weakling I made him out to be. I would hold his hand and tell him how proud I am of him and that I love him just the way he is.

Through years of counseling and healing I now realize that not everyone is capable of loving us the way we want to be loved. Not everyone can meet all our needs. We are all human, and we are all a product of the environment in which we were raised. We all have a responsibility to work through our troubling pasts.

I thank God for opening my eyes, for healing my shattered heart, and helping me to forgive and move on with my life. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

 

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

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In today’s hectic world of computers, cell phones, and video games, we have a tendency to ignore the ones sitting in the same room with us. The ones who want a real, eyeball to eyeball conversation. The ones who need to know that we value their thoughts and concerns. The ones who want to scream, “Will you PLEASE shut that thing off and pay attention to me?!”

People need encouragement today more than ever before. Just a smile, a hug, a phone call, a genuine, “How is your day going today?” is food for the starving soul.

I’d been going through a tough time; a time of uncertainty, anger and grief. Finally, I shared it with a dear friend who gave me words of wisdom and encouragement. That was all I needed to get me back on track; to refocus and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It doesn’t cost a cent for you to stop, look, and listen to another human being sitting in the same room with you. All you have to do is put down your smarthone long enough to see them and listen to what they have to say. It could mean all the world to them.

No More Autumn, No More Rain

Beneath the covers and snow white sheets

her body lay so frail and weak

Wasn’t it just yesterday she was young and strong

laughing and singing a happy song

I don’t like Autumn she told me one day

because everything dies and withers away

Then into the night the angels came

with Autumn leaves and falling rain

Now it’s Springtime forever in heaven so grand

where she strolls with Jesus hand in hand

She’s happy there where she’s free from pain

and there’s no more Autumn no more rain

Handle With Care!

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139: 23, 24).

Hearts are very fragile

so handle them with care

Caress them softly with loving words

and let them know you’re there

Hug them when they’re feeling low

with a smile and words of praise

Lend them a strong and helping hand

when they stumble along the way

Remember that hearts are not perfect

and have a tendency to stray

Especially when they’ve been broken

by reckless words we say

So if you want a happy life

that is joyful and complete

Be tender and compassionate

to every heart you meet

Nursing Homes Make Me Sad

What started yesterday as a quiet, peaceful visit at the nursing home with my sister-in-law, Pat, ended in a heated confrontation with the social worker. I understand that people are in nursing homes for various reasons and that the facility is understaffed and for the most part, doing the best they can.

But, c’om on. Two people sharing one tiny room divided by a flimsy curtain and four people sharing one bathroom really makes my blood boil. It’s a wonder the residents don’t end up killing each other.

And Pat has had here share of less than enjoyable roommates with their loud TV’s and moaning and groaning all hours of the day and night. But they were darling little pussy cats compared to this roommate.

To get to Pat’s side of the room, visitors have to walk through her roommates space. I wouldn’t like that, either. But it is what it is. So as my husband, Buck and I tip towed past the roommate sitting in her wheelchair, she shot us a glaring, drop dead look. But she’s old. That’s what miserable old people do. So we brushed it off with a smile.

About thirty minutes into our visit, the roommate sped out of the room and down the hall telling the nurses we were threatening to kill somebody! A nurse came rushing in, rolled her eyes and left. Moments later, the roommate parked outside the door shaking her bony finger at my husband and yelling, “You have no business in here! Get out and take that woman (me) with you!”

Obviously, she has problems, and I’m sorry for her. But, my concern is for Pat’s safety and emotional well-being.

So like a banty rooster, I wheeled Pat to the social worker’s office and plead my case. Her solution was moving Pat to another room. My argument was: Pat was there first. She likes it there. And she’s not the one causing the problem, so she shouldn’t be the one having to move.

But that’s our regulations, she said.

Well, your regulations are stupid, I said.

Feeling anxious and defeated, I wheeled Pat back to her room and sat on the edge of her bed, comforting her and trying to get my racing heart to slow down.

Things worked out in the end. The social worker came in and talked to us, helping us to understand and suggesting other visiting options. Pat got to keep her room and her roommate was placed in another room. Maybe the sun will shine brighter for her there. I hope so for her and her roommates sake.

 

 

 

It’s Too Peopley Out There

It probably began when the doctor yanked me from my mother’s womb and slapped my scrawny bare butt. Or maybe when my dad dropped me on my head. Come to think of it, first grade was no skip in the woods, either.

It doesn’t really matter when or why it all began. What does matter is how terribly it has affected my entire life.

I mean, why did I have to sit in that stupid circle of kids every day? Wasn’t it bad enough sitting at my desk feeling lonely and afraid? And why did I have to read out loud? Why did I feel like I had two heads and a big fat wart on my nose? Why? Why? Why?

Public work wasn’t much better, either. Paranoia, like a playground bully made me feel suspicious, angry and hostile. I’d tell myself to calm down that it only feels like I’m under attack. But my addled brain wouldn’t buy it. No matter how hard I reasoned with myself, the pain was real. The anxiety was real. The panic was real. The I’m gonna quit and never come back was real.

Years, and years, and years I tried and failed at being normal. So I started pretending. I pretended that I wasn’t angry when I wanted to punch someone in the face. I pretended that I didn’t hurt when I was hemorrhaging inside. I pretended to be happy when I wanted to bawl my eyes out. Why? Because no one would like me if they really knew me. And because being vulnerable was like having a death wish.

Pretending worked until it didn’t anymore. Until that last straw that broke the camel’s back. Until all those inner demons had no place else to go but out.

Thankfully, God was there and saved me from the near fatal wreckage. Don’t ask me how He did it. He just did. We all experience God in different ways. I just know that I called on Him and He was there and changed my life forever.

It’s been a long, painful journey of learning and trusting and relying on God to fix me. Sometimes it’s a mountain top experience, sometimes it’s like crawling naked through a brier patch. But, when I let go of the reigns and hand them over to Him, He gives me strength. He gives me hope. He gives me peace. He helps me stay on track. I can’t do life without Him.

This is what God has and continues teaching me:
I’m not perfect
I can’t fix everything
I can’t always be in control
I can’t please everyone
I don’t have to like everyone
I have a God-given right to defend myself
I stopped allowing people to manipulate and use me
It’s okay to be me
God loves me just the way I am but encourages me to be more like Him

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you ~ 1 Peter 6,7

 

 

 

 

Jesus Calling

When I was diagnosed with colon cancer, an elderly friend going through the same fear and uncertainties suggested that I read a devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. That was seven years ago. I read it through every year and discover something new each and every time.

Jesus calls us to trust and believe in Him, to stop trying to figure everything out and fixing everything that is broken. He calls us to lay down our heavy burdens, to lift our drooping shoulders, to pick up our plodding feet and stroll arm in arm down the rugged path with Him. He calls us to sit and chat with Him and cling to His every word like a bright-eyed eager child.

I wish I could say I always jump right up when He calls me, that I never throw in the towel, never sit in a corner crying my eyes out and wishing things were different. I wish I could say I never run away when He calls, that I never pout when life doesn’t go my way, that I never pace the floor wringing my hands in despair.

Yet, in spite of all of my human efforts to be good, He never gives up on me when I’m not. He never shakes His finger in my face, never turns His back, never says I told you so when I run back crying in His arms.

Jesus calling. What a soothing, comforting voice to hear when I’m lost, angry and confused. When voices in my head are yelling and screaming. When my heart is burning with rage. When I feel as worthless as a rag doll tossed in the trash. What joy in knowing that through the darkest, fiercest storm that crashes through my world, He is always there, always grasping my hand, always calling me to press closer to Him where I am forever safe and sound.

Jesus Calling. May I never turn a deaf ear to His tender, pleading voice.

My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).

 

 

The Beginning of the End

I’m getting scared. I mean, really, really scared. My body is laughing at me, my eyes see things that aren’t there, and my brain plays tricks on me telling me it’s Monday when it’s Sunday or that it’s Monday when it’s Tuesday, making me forget where I put things and if I took one pill or two pills, and if it’s September or October.

Not funny guys!

Hubby and I sit and laugh at each other. Sometimes we cry, too. We’re both frustrated with our decaying bodies and absent-minded brains and wonder what a year from now is going to look like. I fear that some day my son will visit my sunken shell in the nursing home and wonder who that old woman is and what she did with his mother. I fear that his heart will rupture and bleed and I can’t kiss away his pain.

When we enter that brand new world where old people go to die, no one rolls out the red carpet for us to walk on. No one stands at the golden portals handing out pamphlets telling us what to expect. No welcome committee, no happy smiles no pats on the back. Just a big fat royal kick in the butt. A learn as you go, cold and cruel, sink or swim, everyone else’s world keeps spinning but your’s kick in the butt. It’s the beginning of the end and only those of us who are  there can know the grueling struggle it takes to survive in it.

But it’s not all cloudy and rainy. I love not having to get up and go to work every day. I enjoy lounging in my pajamas, cutting up with my husband, and doing nothing all day. I like cleaning when I want to. I like putting things off till tomorrow or the next day or dooms day. I like not having to follow a set of rules that no longer apply to me. I don’t have to dress up, put on a pretty face, paint my nails or even shave my legs if I don’t want to. I’m retired! I’m free! I can still do stuff! I’m happy and well and strong . . . kinda sorta.

So yes, I’ve entered the twilight zone, the beginning of the end of my life here on earth. It’s spooky, it’s scary, it’s clouded with uncertainties. But it is what it is. I can’t do a darned thing to change it. I can either dry up and blow away or I can continue to live until God calls me home. I can be scared to death or I can trust God. I can cry and moan and groan or I can praise God and thank Him for the blessings He has provided and continues providing every single day of my dwindling life.

I can’t do this without Him. I won’t do this without Him. It’s just too freaking dark and lonely and scary.

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know . . .

I was weaned on hymns and Jesus loves me songs. I believed that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit were all three in one. I believed that Jesus was born and lived and died on the cross to save me from all my wretched sins. With every breath I believed in God’s love, but my battered, bleeding soul couldn’t grasp it.

For many, gut-wrenching years my God-relationship went something like this: Jesus was my best friend. The Holy Spirit was a floating ghost. God was a mighty giant somewhere high above and looking down with glaring, scornful eyes. Oh, and His arms were always crossed and his foot tapping beneath His long, flowing white robe.

In my mind, heart and soul, God was anything but love. I couldn’t get close to Him no matter how hard I tried, so I quit trying. I just stumbled through life with Jesus somewhere near, the Holy Spirit floating far behind, and God looking way down shaking His head with absolute disgust.

But a constant, nagging, desire to know God, that mysterious giant in the clouds, flickered in my heart, guiding me toward the truth about myself, about my shattered past, about God and His unconditional love for the seemingly most undeserving ragamuffin on the planet.

I could tell you about the dark, lonely, twisted path I followed that led me straight into God’s, outstretched arms. I could tell you how I trembled and sobbed there, how He cleansed and clothed my filthy, naked heart, how I never ever felt such warmth and love and forgiveness. But if you truly want to know God you must doggedly follow the crumbs scattered along your own dark and twisted path. You must see His outstretched arms through your own tear filled eyes. You must feel His love and forgiveness with your own sobbing, broken heart.

Then you will know.

Then you will never question His love again. He will never seem a million miles away again. He will be the father the mother the brother the sister the everything you searched and longed your whole life for but never found. Then you’ll have only dipped one little toe into the vastness of God’s love, His mercy and forgiveness. Try with every fiber of your God-created being and you’ll never understand it. You’ll never be able to explain it. You’ll just know!

 

If It’s Wrong, Don’t Do It!

Temptation. It’s everywhere, like a seductive harlot behind every eye, every thought, every motive, every desire of every heart. We know it’s wrong but we do it anyway. We spend more than we have, eat more than we should, say and do things we shouldn’t. And it all seems so harmless until one day we realize our lives are a shattered mess of guilt and shame and regret.

How do we survive in a world where morals and common sense seem to have packed up and left us to do as we please when we please to whom we please without paying a mighty price? Where do we turn for help? Who will teach us how to live wholesome, productive lives? Who will teach our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren?

I will. Because I still believe in God and His Word. I still believe in right and wrong. I still believe that regardless of what the world shoves in my face and screams in my ears, I can say no. I can walk away. I can do what’s right.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13